Help Ai beat cancer!

33590578_1539073058208667_r.jpegHi! I am helping raise funds for my dear friend Aileen who was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. Please read her message below:

Dearest Family and Friends,

In August, I’ve been diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma, gamma delta t-cell, which is aggressive and known to be resistant to chemo. Based on my latest scan results, my body has a partial response to chemo so plan is to continue with the current chemo treatment. I have completed my 3rd out of 6 treatments and is now scheduled for the 4th on 17th Oct. My doctors advised me to prepare and plan for stem cell transplant after the 6th treatment for long-term remission.

Here in Singapore, stem cell transplant using my own stem cells costs about 40-70K SGD. It may cost roughly up to 400K SGD if using a donor’s stem cell. At this point, it has not been decided which way to go as we wait for results of the subsequent treatments. Due to the high cost, I am also considering and researching, with the help of some friends, on proceeding with the transplant in Manila. If any of you have inputs, related information, or recommendations, please do share with me.

As my finances are tight, I am appealing to everyone’s kind hearts for monetary donation that will help to cover the stem cell transplant expense. Please know that any amount is much appreciated and prayers for healing are dearly treasured. I hope that I’ll be given a chance to return the favor some time in one way or another.

For those sending in their donation, please drop me a note or any of the contacts I’ve listed below for the account details. As the cost is not yet final, if the total donated amount is more than the actual expense, the excess amount will be divided among the donors. I will either give back the donor’s share or redonate to a charity. I will leave it to each donor to decide on which option he or she prefers.

Donations will be accepted through the following banks:

BDO - my own account
BPI - c/o Lawrence Arrobang
Metrobank - c/o Arcturus Alincastre
PNB - c/o Anne Cua-Golong

UOB - c/o Jinny Chan

CBA - c/o Karen Santos Mejilla

You may contact me or anyone below for the bank account details.

Family- Marites Villegas, Reuby Almazan
SPCP- Karen Santos Mejilla, Paula Nepomuceno
UP- Lawrence Arrobang, Josephine Ambrocio, Malou De Leon
PAL- Anne Cua-Golong, Andrea Hipos, Bang Arevalo, Jonathan Roque, Kat San Diego-Montemayor
Sabre- Jinny Chan, Jasmine Yeo, Mila Briones

Once you have completed the transfer, kindly provide the same contact with the following details:

Date/Time of transfer:
Redonate (Y/N):

For those based in the US or in other parts of the world, you may donate via gofundme. Link as follows.

Thank you in advance for your help!

My Journey to Recovery So Far—

This journey has all throughout been a reminder of how blessed I am. I’m blessed with very loving family and friends and if they’re all I have, it’s ok. In fact, it’s more than enough. I take it as God whispering to my ear to pause and as cliche as it sounds, appreciate the finer things in life— breath of fresh air, smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, deep breaths, uncontrollable laughter, hearty home-cooked meals, time spent with family and friends, and the list goes on.

I’ve been on a clean, healthy diet for 13 weeks now. Oh how I miss my chips, soft drinks, chocolates and oh yeah, alcohol — things I enjoyed then excessively and not moderately as maybe I should have. I have received a suggestion to drink beer to pass urine to get rid of the toxins from chemo. I wanted to drink beer in that instant but the same friend who passed the message reminded me that water too, can make you pass urine. My new self decided to stick with water.

I’ve been living an almost sedentary way of life, far from my then usual adventurous, hyperactive and fast-paced lifestyle. I busy myself mostly with coloring and artworks, Tsumtsum, Vice Ganda YouTube videos, and yes, Netflix. I have word puzzles to do, books to read and a lot of DIY home projects I want to start soon. I occasionally receive visitors in the hospital and at home, some all the way from the Philippines and Australia who never fail to fill me with positive vibes and good energy! Besides my hospital visits, I only go out of the house to hangout with a dear friend and my adorable god-daughter, to the mall or Ikea to buy, in my own standards, necessities, and to church to hear mass.

Speaking of church, I’m glad to be an instrument of bringing some friends back to God. I have some friends who haven’t been going to church and praying and now do so to pray for my healing. I also have friends who go to church and offer prayers for me everyday. I am so grateful for my prayer warriors and angels — there are a lot! I have been praying the rosary myself twice daily, along with novenas suggested by family and friends.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness of everyone aware of my condition. I am truly touched with the support I’m getting from family, friends, present and previous colleagues, bosses, and even acquaintances. I haven’t thanked you all individually but please know that your thoughts, prayers and help keep me going. Thank you! I feel so loved and blessed so much so that thinking about it always brings tears of joy in my eyes.

I am thankful that I have a handful of go-to-angels outside Singapore who are always willing to help each time I bug them for favors. I’m used to bugging people for travel plans, parties, events, drinking sessions and other stuff and nonsense, but not really for personal favors. To this day, it still feels a bit uneasy but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

I am eternally grateful for everyone who have been taking care of me in Singapore, my home away from home— my awesome doctors and their teams, nurses, close friends turned family who do so many things for me— feed me with masterchef-level food, join me for my doctor’s appointments, and extend the friendship and support to my sister, among others. I’m also thankful to my sister’s friends who also treat me as family, always ready to help. Most especially, I am forever indebted to my 2 naturally designated caretakers who always keep me company, laugh and cry with me, keep up with my craziness, and bear with my mood swings.

I must admit I don’t always feel 100% positive. I do have fleeting downtimes. I sometimes cry because of little things like the difficulty in taking my oral chemo drug cause I find the softgels ugly. My sister volunteered to draw a smiley face on the softgels to make them pretty. The thought of it made me laugh and swallow the no-smiley softgels immediately.

I also cry when I miss my dad who passed away 5 years ago. I know he’s one of my angels in heaven as I hear him whisper to me, “Malayo yan sa bituka.” Whenever anyone from the family is sick, he would always utter this phrase. Its literal translation is “It’s far from your intestines.” It means “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

My sister flew in from Manila to be with me throughout this journey. I cry with her, wishing our mom is with us to physically comfort us as she always knows what to do in every situation. My mom cannot be with us at this time as she has difficulty travelling due to a stroke 6 years back that left her body half-paralyzed. We keep connected through video chat for now. My mom and sister, I think, are both still stuck in the stage of denial but showers me with their love and support in more ways than one.

I'm coping with the usual side effects of chemo like hair fall and tiredness on some days. I’ve lost 5kg after my 1st treatment. Friends say I've lost the unhealthy fats when I started eating healthy. I’m still overweight though, and far from my ideal weight. From my last weigh in, I have regained back 0.5kg. It’s a good sign, I think. As I always say, I’m staying positive and keeping the faith!

Thanks again to those who have helped and thanks in advance to those who will be helping. God bless you all!

Please feel free to share or forward this post.


Aileen Almazan
aka Ai, Ai-Ai, Len, Orange
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Organizer and beneficiary

Karen Santos Mejilla 
Asquith NSW
Armstrong Mejilla 
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